12 May 2021

Renewed push to lower voting age as electoral reform looms

| Dominic Giannini
Join the conversation

The Greens have renewed its push to lower the voting age in the ACT. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT Greens have proposed lowering the voting age in the ACT, banning or creating dedicated spaces for roadside election signage and capping electoral donations at $10,000 in a submission to the 2020 ACT Election review.

Former Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur tried to make voting voluntary for 16 and 17-year-olds ahead of the 2020 ACT Election, which would have allowed around 8,500 younger people to vote last year.

The Canberra Liberals rejected any changes to the voting age in its submission, while ACT Labor said it supports Elections ACT considering lowering the age, but the party said voting should remain compulsory.

The Greens proposal to ban or limit roadside signage on public land was also rejected by the Liberals, who said it was an important way for their candidates to build their profile given “the limited engagement with local media by Canberrans”.

Although some reform in the area is likely given that Labor supports banning the unrestricted use of corflutes on public land and has suggested limited the number of corflutes each candidate can place in certain areas.

Election corflutes

The ACT Greens want to ban or limit corflutes in public places. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

All three major parties also endorsed changes to electoral donations following recommendations from the ACT Electoral Commission in its report into the 2020 election, tabled in the Legislative Assembly last month.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that the ACT Government change the current laws to limit public funding that a political party or candidate can receive.

It also recommended the Legislative Assembly review the previous legislation, which imposed a $10,000 cap on political donations with the aim of reinstating a similar provision.

Parties and independents who secure more than 4 per cent of the primary vote currently receive $8.60 per vote.

Labor and the Liberals spent more than $1 million each during the 2020 election and received $880,000 and $785,000 from Elections ACT, respectively. However, the Greens spent $125,000 and received $315,000 from Elections ACT while Fiona Carrick spent $13,500 and received $32,600.

Labour DLP also came close to doubling their $13,000 spend at the election from the money it received from Elections ACT.

READ MORE Better mobile voting services are needed for homeless people: Elections ACT

Labor agreed to limit public funding to the amount spent on elections so political parties cannot profit from elections. However, it rejected the donations cap, saying the introduction of expenditure caps and a new public funding model that superseded the provision was fairer.

“The ACT has one of the most rigorous donation disclosure regimes in Australia that already makes public the name of any organisation or individual donating over $1,000,” it said in its submission.

“This scheme will be further enhanced by even shorter reporting timeframes that come into effect from 1 July 2021.”

The Liberals said they wanted stronger regulation on associated entities, such as unions, that spend money on elections as third party campaigners.

“The clearest example of such a conflict was that the President of UnionsACT was a Labor Party candidate, and UnionsACT reported spending $15,874 as a third party campaigner,” former Canberra Liberals Director Josh Manuatu wrote in his submission.

“From the material that we are aware of, this was largely for the distribution of material solely in favour of the Labor Party’s campaign.”

The Greens and the Liberals both wanted to reduce the 100-metre campaigning exclusion zones outside polling places to the Federal regulation of six metres.

Labor did not specifically note whether it wanted the zone reduced but said it wanted the Electoral Commission to better enforce the current measures, saying the Commission could not take direct action against breaches.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Speaking personally, the thing I remember about when I was a teenager and voting were the pop songs. “It’s time” for Gough in 1972, “Turn on the lights” for Fraser in 1975. We picked up our political information from the media. When the media turned against Gough, so did we.

It is interesting to note that the Whitlam government lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The thinking being that young people all voted Labor and would keep Labor in office permanently. The 1975 record Liberal landslide showed up our way off beam that thinking was.

How’s about we do away with compulsory voting …

Most countries I know of don’t have compulsory voting. Even ‘gasp’ New Zeeeland . You do need to be on the roll, but compulsory turn up ? Nope.
None of the G7 countries require it.

We are one of the small number of countries that require you to turn up and vote, and if you don’t “vee have ways to track you down and make you pay !”

Below is a govy list of who does and who don’t.

Agree. Especially at state/territory level.

Capital Retro5:39 pm 12 May 21

“I think voting should be proportionate to the amount of tax you contribute.”

So that means all people who don’t pay income tax would not be able to vote?

That would disqualify all retired people in pension mode and also the Governor General.

HiddenDragon6:46 pm 11 May 21

An even lower voting age? – maybe, in return for a poll tax – we already have far too many people voting for nice ideas that someone else will pay for.

The “stake in the future” (especially re the environment) argument which the Greens run in favour of a lower voting age might be a bit easier to swallow if, for instance, the Greens were campaigning at least as strongly for policies which made people walk the talk – e.g. eliminating all student parking at ACT colleges.

Capital Retro5:35 pm 11 May 21

“……..please confirm how this school brainwashing is happening…….”

I know a few school teachers in the ACT. Without exception they all vote Labor/Green and they are always banging on about how climate change is going to kill us all etc.

More realistic of them to accept that climate change is happening and not ignore the research of those working in the field and studying what is happening, than to live in the la-la land of a denier who ignores the research. This will be young people’s future, and the school is an education institution that teaches more than reading, writing and maths. Climate change should be part of science lessons. Maybe one day it will also be part of history lessons.

Maya Maya Maya. There is no such thing as man made climate change. Our climate is based on the sun and it’s solar cycles. It has been happening for millennia and will continue well after you and I are long gone.

Capital Retro1:46 pm 12 May 21

Climate change was happening when this old denier went to school – we studied it as a natural thing. In fact, it has been happening forever, the same as it is today.

Unfortunately an industry of misinformation has evolved and certain people have vested interests to keep the scare campaign going.

So you work in this area of research and know more than those who are studding it?

Science is evolving as more is learnt. When many of us went to school this had not been as studied as it is today. Knowledge does not stay static. I mean, once people were taught the world was flat. As that was taught once, should we then, based on comments here, continue to accept the earth is flat. Our knowledge evolves, and increases. Though unfortunately some have difficulty keeping up. New knowledge and research that challenges and updates, is scary for some. Better to ignore and deny then.

The same types of vested interests CR that masquerade on here on other matters? Like those trying to pretend what ultimately is technological change and finding a better way (evolution of how we produce electricity) is somehow ‘evil’ because it doesn’t fit with ‘back in my day’ yarns about horses and carts…. you can’t have both ways.

But as always, anecdotal evidence is all that you ever choose to deal in.

Capital Retro5:26 pm 12 May 21

I don’t think technological change has anything to do with climate change JS9 in the same way horses and carts don’t but maybe credulous people do think that way.

In the past 70 years I haven’t observed anything that indicates the climate is changing other that naturally. In what way is that anecdotal?

True, science is evolving Maya. In saying that there is still no scientific proof of MAN MADE climate change.

Breaking news:

“ACT Greens want voting reforms that would benefit themselves”

Completely shocked.

Capital Retro12:44 pm 11 May 21

The policy promoted by the Greens before the last election was for voluntary voting for 16 – 17 year olds. This voluntary thing is open to blatant abuse (vote harvesting) and because there is no ID requirement with voting in the ACT it would impossible to control.

It must not be considered any further.

Geez, ACT elections are a good earner, the Greens nearly tripled their dosh.

All pollies want electoral reform that will favour their particular demographic.

If the Greens think that lowering the voting age to 16 will result in more Green votes, they may be very disappointed. There are many young people who are not as deceived and blinkered as their elders and who see the hypocrisy of a party that has implemented policies to raise house prices, rents and rates and reduce the tree canopy across the city through densification and ugly apartmentalisation.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.